Self-care really needs simplifying doesn't it?
Self-care is for everybody and yet it can often feel elite. It should be simple and uncomplicated. Suzy Reading’s The Little Book of Self-care is both of these. It’s simply 30 practices to sooth the body and mind.
I love Reading’s definition of self-care; “nourishment for the head, the heart and the body.” Citing that everyday the type of self-care we need will be different.
So if our need for self-care changes from day to day, it makes sense to use a variety of practices. Using Reading’s vitality wheel you can pinpoint the area of self-care you need, judging by what feels appropriate in that moment. Reading goes on to explain, “an act of self-care is like a deposit in our energy bank and we need a healthy balance.” With this thinking, self-care is not only reserved for when you feel frazzled, it should be practised regularly. I love this analogy and I hope it will help those who have associated self-care as an unnecessary indulgence, who feel guilt at putting themselves first. Keeping our energy balance at a healthy level will help in times of need and for your future self by “nourishing the person you are becoming.” A deposit for your future self, that’s a sentiment many of us will be able to embrace.
Having said all that, this book can also serve as a comforter in times of anxiety or distress. Has anyone ever hit the SOS session in the Headspace meditation app? I have. It’s oddly comforting. Andy, the voice and co-founder of the app, who sounds like an English teacher you fancied in secondary school, switches from his usual chilled out-tones to match the somewhat dramatic nature of hitting an SOS button. It might just be me, but I find his urgency comforting. It offers a level of compassion. This book can serve a similar purpose. An understanding companion to your distress, offering a chance to reset when it all feels a bit much.
The first suggested practice is to keep a self-care journal.
I’m all for using writing as an outlet to manage my mental health and I believe we should acknowledge the negative thoughts and emotions we experience, however Reading suggests leaving these out, dedicating this journal as a place for positivity “writing about uplifting experiences such as moments of awe, hope, joy, growth and gratitude.” This was a totally new concept for me and one I will continue to use.
The familiar run a bath with essential oils makes an appearance, but hey, cliches exist for a reason and its an important one that can offer nourishment in the moment.
However, what comes next is more important and it’s a message Reading champions; that these isolated practices breed compassion towards yourself. Helping you grow and change in the long term. They ignite a self-awareness that can help you shed patterns of behaviour you no longer need. For me this is the real treasure of self-care.
This became evident for me a week into using some of the practices. I was experiencing feelings of anxiety and without giving it much thought, booked a yoga class for that evening. Groundbreaking I know. But this wasn’t a regular class for me and I had recently fallen into the unhelpful, toxic habit of using alcohol to destress after work. Having practised moments of self-care I was able to make a better choice in support of my mental health.
This book can provide you with a solid foundation on which self-development can grow. Entry level work for any type of recovery. Have this in place and you are in a strong position to build on many areas of your inner world.
Meet Our Contributor
Tuesday Hope is an actress and writer.
Her first short film Same Mistakes, is about a woman confronting her anxiety issues for the first time, whilst also dealing with the intricacies of modern day booty calls. Tuesday starred in it along with actress Kelby Keenan. The short is currently in post production.
Originally from Yorkshire, Tuesday moved to London after gaining a place at The Arts Educational School of Acting and has been working across commercials and voiceovers since graduating.
Newcastle United supporter, semi-dedicated book club attendee, occasional brow model, currently living in East London contemplating the commitments that come with adopting a house rabbit.